May’s First PMQs Prompts Runway Protest

May’s first PMQs prompts runway protest

When new Prime Minister Theresa May left Downing Street for her first Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday 20 July, she couldn’t miss the gathering of campaigners protesting against a third runway at Heathrow.

This was just a reminder to the Maidenhead MP that residents currently living under the threat of a bigger Heathrow, want an announcement that a third runway at the airport will never be built.

A banner urged Theresa May to “Save us from a third runway.

Campaigners call for an end to the threat of a third runway at Heathrow

People living in the villages of Harmondsworth and Sipson also want Theresa May to appreciate that they have spent decades under threat. Each new plan for expansion at Heathrow puts homes at real risk of demolition. The last proposal (2002-2010) would have flattened Sipson and part of Harmondsworth. This time round almost all of Harmondsworth would be under concrete with Sipson initially on the boundary but quickly engulfed by airport development. In the past the Heathrow village of Harlington was earmarked for bulldozing, this time round it would be overflown as aircraft take off and land only metres away. Longford village, which has also been under threat before, was significantly impacted by Terminal 5 and now faces being wiped off the map if either the third runway or Heathrow Hub options are approved.

When politicians decry the lack of human rights in other countries, they ignore the fact that the British government has repeatedly ill-treated people living near Heathrow. If Theresa May announces a third runway at Heathrow she knows that a legal case against it is guaranteed.

Communities in the Heathrow Villages to the north have been starved of investment in favour of more airport development. None of the villages has a library, four out of five villages have no doctor or dentist, the only leisure facility (a small swimming pool built for children) is managed as a charity by volunteers. A council park with sports pavilion in Harlington has been taken over by Heathrow private hire vehicles that have made it a no-go area for locals. Other areas suffer in different ways, particularly because they have had little or no say about being overflown. It has been proved that, although Heathrow claims aircraft are quieter, the way that aircraft are flown is actually increasing noise and annoyance for thousands of people.

In parliament, Theresa May’s responses to questions shocked political commentators. Mrs May appeared to have adopted a Margaret Thatcher-style aggression. Our new PM has strongly opposed Heathrow expansion in the past so it is hoped that, like Mrs Thatcher, the lady’s not for turning.

Robert Barnstone, Campaign Co-ordinator for Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “We are sending Theresa May a reminder that she should not change her views on a third runway at Heathrow.

“Now, as prime minister, it is for her government to deliver the verdict that so any residents around Heathrow want; to end the threat of the third runway for good.”

The chair of HACAN (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) John Stewart added: “We know from her past statements that Theresa May is no fan of Heathrow expansion. We are gathering to remind her that she now has the power to stop it.”